I’m sorry to say that some crooks are trying to prey on job hunters, and you need to be careful. I had a long conversation with Predrag Lesic, CEO at the international tech company Domain.ME. This business and his background include cybersecurity. He offered some eye-opening ways you need to be aware of. With Covid-19 and more time online working from home, this increases the opportunity for scammers to defraud you.
He particularly pointed out that as companies shrink their office space, keeping employees working from home, the U.S. has had 80% of people online more than ever before. Unfortunately, many individuals are too trusting with sending banking info and making online payments. As a result, criminal developers can hack you at home and get your personal information shared with you as an employee, permitting company access. Then they return to your computer and enter your company using your employee ID.
Lesic says to pay attention to the domain name. Look for misspelling in domain names, such as using the number 3 instead of e. The URL is where you see fraud—scammers only do a good home page. Be vigilant to see if there are any spelling errors or any problem with a form, text that is not written correctly. Be aware that the domain name is often like another name you might know.
Beware of phishing issues which is the fraudulent practice of sending emails from reputable companies to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Always research to be sure anyone approaching you is an actual employer. Go deeper than just looking at the URL’s homepage. Try to clink on things in the menu and review 2nd or 3rd level pages, as scammers don’t often have time to build these out.
Who Is At Risk?
Predrag Lesic, who has a background in cybersecurity, stated that educating baby boomers on the top scams will help decrease their chances of becoming victims. Surprisingly, job scams are at the top of the fraudulent list. Baby Boomers remain the most vulnerable victims to cyber fraud, accounting for $966 million in losses last year alone, says Lesic, citing a Social Catfish research report. Personal privacy protection is something many people don’t consider. For Millennials and Gen-Z, it’s their default behavior and commonplace to share personal info, and they do not see this as a problem. When you are starting a new job, the company often asks for your personal information, and you freely give it out.
Criminals see opportunity with more Baby Boomers coming online, viewing them as most vulnerable as many are not savvy about technology and are not educated regarding online scams. Lesic encourages Baby Boomers to do their due diligence when it comes to searching and applying for jobs online. He believes that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” He encourages job applicants to thoroughly vet the company before giving any personal information. Jobs that ask you to pay money to apply or require personal information to enroll in training programs often pose the most significant threat. People are giving out Social Security numbers or paying for nonexistent services.
Sometimes an advertised job only wants your email and cellphone number, and possibly home address, and then they will sell this personal information.
What Not To Do
Don’t buy a job list that asks for credit card information, and especially do not give out the CCV number on the back of the card. If all the details and job information only come over Messenger, be very careful. Never give out your bank account numbers. Scammers ask for your bank account, saying they plan to transfer your money. The biggest FRAUD comes from criminals saying they are an insurance company, and something has happened, and the insurance company needs to pay you money. They ask for personal details that, without your knowledge, enable them to take control of your computer. If you have online banking, this is how they take over and steal money from you.
Freelancers are another vulnerable group. Scammers are giving you the opportunity to make some money through bogus work. They say, “I want to pay you, but I need bank account numbers to do that. I can’t send you money because there is a problem with your computer. So, install this software system to get paid.” Then they can use your computer and links to your banking without logging out and can remain logged in and steal from you.
Lesic offers the following recommendations to avoid becoming a victim of job search scammers.
Job scams are common scams
- Because job seekers are often desperate to find a position when searching online, they may easily overlook red flags when responding to online job listings.
- During the application process, fraudulent job postings can phish personal information, including banking accounts, credit card numbers, and social security numbers, among other personal information during the “application process.”
- Fake jobs are posted on popular job boards and platforms legitimate employers use, so they blend in.
A job posting may be a scam if:
- It seems too good to be true (e.g., there is no training involved and benefits are not comparable to similar positions).
- There is an upfront expense to apply.
- The application requires upfront personal information like your Social Security number or birth date.
- The job posting or contact information is full of typos and grammatical errors.
- The job description is extremely vague.
- After applying for the job, you get an automated message unrelated to the position or company or if a representative contacts you immediately looking to fill the role that day or week.
- Hearing back so soon is rare. Only 4% of job applicants hear back from a company the same day that they apply.
- The interview takes place over a messaging platform instead of a familiar, secure video conferencing portal.
Avoid being scammed
- Pause before responding to unexpected messages.
- Avoid responding to messages from familiar companies with contact information that doesn’t align with the company’s regular communications.
- Random messages from individuals on behalf of a company on social media can also be red flags for scams.
- Be wary of messages that say you will get a prize or incentive if you apply or insist there is a problem you must act immediately to solve.
- Vet the company to make sure it is legitimate. If a company does not have an online presence, including a website and active social media accounts, think twice before applying to a posting.
If you are a victim of a scam:
- Report the scam immediately to the Federal Trade Commission, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, and the FBI.
- Report identity theft cases to IdentityTheft.gov for further assistance in recovering your identity.